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  #1  
Old 10-13-2021, 9:38 AM
JonnyGSX JonnyGSX is offline
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Default Are thermal scopes legal for coyotes in CA?

Recently got more interested in coyote hunting. I was told that thermal scopes are not legal in california, but so far all the regs i've found state its illegal to use night vision for big game. Everything seems centered around night vision and infrared, I can't find anything about thermal imaging legality. Can anyone tell me if thermal scopes are legal for varmint hunting in california, and if they are not can you help me by citing the regulation that makes them illegal?
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Old 10-13-2021, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by JonnyGSX View Post
Are thermal scopes legal for coyotes in CA?

Recently got more interested in coyote hunting. I was told that thermal scopes are not legal in california, but so far all the regs i've found state its illegal to use night vision for big game. Everything seems centered around night vision and infrared, I can't find anything about thermal imaging legality. Can anyone tell me if thermal scopes are legal for varmint hunting in california, and if they are not can you help me by citing the regulation that makes them illegal?
Not legal in CA. [FGC 2005(c)]


Fish and Game Code 2005
(a) Except as otherwise authorized by this section, it is unlawful to use an artificial light to assist in the taking of a game bird, game mammal, or game fish.
(b) It is unlawful for one or more persons to throw or cast the rays of a spotlight, headlight, or other artificial light on a highway or in a field, woodland, or forest where game mammals, fur-bearing mammals, or nongame mammals are commonly found, or upon a game mammal, fur-bearing mammal, or nongame mammal, while having in his or her possession or under his or her control a firearm or weapon with which that mammal could be killed, even though the mammal is not killed, injured, shot at, or otherwise pursued.
(c) It is unlawful to use or possess night vision equipment to assist in the taking of a bird, mammal, amphibian, reptile, or fish. For purposes of this subdivision, “night vision equipment” includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(1) An infrared or similar light, used in connection with an electronic viewing device.
(2) An optical device, including, but not limited to, binoculars or a scope, that uses electrical or battery powered light amplifying circuits.
(d) This section does not apply to any of the following:
(1) Sport fishing in ocean waters, or other waters where night fishing is permitted, if an artificial light is not used on or as part of the fishing tackle.
(2) Commercial fishing.
(3) The taking of mammals governed by Article 2 (commencing with Section 4180) of Chapter 3 of Part 3 of Division 4.
(4) The use of a hand-held flashlight that is no larger and emits no more light than a two-cell, three-volt flashlight, and is not affixed to a weapon.
(5) The use of a lamp or lantern that does not cast a directional beam of light.
(6) Headlights of a motor vehicle that are operated in a usual manner and without attempt or intent to locate a game mammal, fur-bearing mammal, or nongame mammal.
(7) An owner of land devoted to the agricultural industry, or the owner’s employee, while on that land.
(8) An owner of land devoted to the agricultural industry, or the owner’s employee, while on land controlled by the owner in connection with the agricultural industry.
(9) Other uses as the commission may authorize by regulation.
(e) A person shall not be arrested for violation of this section except by a peace officer.
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Old 10-13-2021, 1:38 PM
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the "but not limited to" phrase is concerning. But it doesn't appear to me that a thermal scope explicitly meets (C)(1) or C(2). To (1), it is not a light/does not project any kind of "artificial" light, infrared or otherwise. It is passive only. And to (2) - it does not do any light amplifying at all. It detects differences in temperature. Perhaps they go against the spirit of the regulation, and the open wording means they get to ban whatever they feel like, but a literal reading seems like they are ok.
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Old 10-13-2021, 2:56 PM
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Old 10-13-2021, 3:02 PM
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Originally Posted by sbo80 View Post
t it does not do any light amplifying at all. It detects differences in temperature
Devices cannot "see" temperature, they see infra red. And the electronic circuits amplify and transform it into visible light.

IANAL but it seems thermal imagers easily fall into the illegal category.
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Old 10-13-2021, 5:11 PM
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Devices cannot "see" temperature, they see infra red. And the electronic circuits amplify and transform it into visible light.

IANAL but it seems thermal imagers easily fall into the illegal category.
I figured it would go this direction. Going to hinge on the definition of "light". Temperature variations radiate on spectrum outside of visible light. I admit I have no idea what range a rifle scope in question detects, I only know large detectors. So is "light" only in near-IR, like 700 to 1000 nm (for those that don't know, visible color red tops out around 700)? Is Longwave IR at 5000 to 10000 nm still "light"? Some detectors "see" that just fine and produce a viewable scene. At the extreme, what about microwaves? Are they light? I'm being facetious, and I'll accept the "probably illegal" but it's obnoxious something that should be straightforward, is not.
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Old 10-13-2021, 5:14 PM
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^I'll add that "night vision" typically only can amplify light, that is up to about the mid-800 nm or so. That's where "IR lasers" and "IR illuminators" live, like you get from the ATPIAL-C.

Last edited by sbo80; 10-13-2021 at 5:18 PM.. Reason: .
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Old 10-13-2021, 8:07 PM
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^I'll add that "night vision" typically only can amplify light, that is up to about the mid-800 nm or so. That's where "IR lasers" and "IR illuminators" live, like you get from the ATPIAL-C.
Just keep it attached to your face.

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